Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ride at Your Own Peril and Make Mine a Double

So it’s bike rodeo week at Emie’s school. One might assume this means that the kids are encouraged to ride their bikes to school on a given day. Not true. The kids are definitely encouraged to bring their bikes in the backs of their parents’ SUVs. Goes against all things green but note that this is a rule to preserve life. The roads are busy and there are more bikes than there are people in some small towns, which makes bike parking impossible. So the parents are given the opportunity to schlep said youngster's bike to the school the night before the rodeo. This eliminates a new traffic jam in the middle of the normal morning traffic jam that is the nightmare of kiddo drop-off without the help of a rodeo.

If you’re still reading at this point , thanks for that. I know this is edge of your seat material here. But it’s just the day to day for me. Don’t be jealous of my cosmopolitan lifestyle, it's just how we roll. Anyway, I was on bike delivery duty tonight since Dirk’s in California on “business.” I like to use quotes for that just for fun. In any case I heaved the bike into the back of the car and the handlebars did a fast spinning twistaroo resulting in a big slap in my face. Like the “I see stars now" kind of slap. Ouch. The seat of the bike also did a little twist but I didn’t think a lot of it since it didn’t hit me in the face. We backed out of the driveway without incident. Congratulations, Mario Andretti, you say but what you don’t realize is that this alone is no small feat. Our garage is narrow like eye of the needle narrow and few are those who find it. Or at least few are those who back out of it without either hitting the side where the door goes down or shaving little pieces of brick off of the little retaining wall outside. Not that I’d know anything about either of those things. I have no idea how any paint or brick shavings got near my car. It’s either that someone pulled the ultimate prank and set the whole thing up or I was running late to take Ainsley to school and wailed into both the side of the garage and the little brick wall one day last week. I really can’t remember which it was. But the good news is that the paint scrape was superficial, it was only the rubber molding around the door that I drove into, and the retaining wall rollover did no damage to the tire. I knew you were worried.

So anyway we make it to the school to find plenty of Bike Rodeo volunteers in place ready to greet us. I’m telling you one has to get up pretty early to get ahead of these PTO ladies. They are running the show (or the rodeo) as the case may be. I tried to volunteer to be a chaperon for Emie’s field trip today and was told that they had all of the volunteers they needed (thankyouverymuch) within a few hours of announcing their need. That it was only a first-come first-served opportunity. Where am I? Since when is herding 22 seven year olds through a museum display of naked Egyptian statues an opportunity afforded to but a few lucky ones? Anyway back to the rodeo. So as I get the bike out of the car I note that the handlebars have left a nice red welt across the side of my cheek. The seat seemed kind of wiggly as I sat it down for Emie to walk into the gym but I didn’t suppose there was a lot to be done about it and carried on.

I forgot my glasses since I was wearing my prescription sunnies so I just walked into the gym wearing sunglasses. I was told that Emie could choose to either take a spin on the rodeo course (to become familiar with it) or park her bike in the gym next to her teacher’s name and take off. I knew what I wanted which involved turning right around to go home again. But of course in no time we were out on the course watching Emie kill some figure eights with her sparkly bike. But I should note that before she even got on the bike I noted that indeed her seat was kind of loose. Like pretty wobbly loose and probably not rodeo-worthy. After all part of the deal is some bike safety king is coming to not only check out her figure eight prowess but assess whether her happy two-wheeler should even be on the road. I wondered aloud (to no one in particular) that I should probably work on that seat. Mr. Helpful (pretty sure he would introduce himself this way) chirped right up. “Is it an Allen wrench or a standard you need for that seat?” Well, mind you, the bike is now 500 plus yards away from me being ridden with pure joy by my eldest. And it just so happens that I haven’t memorized which type of hardware is used on the underside of the bike seat. “Oh, I’m not sure,” I said. Adding with a smile what I thought would be a lighthearted comment, “That’s my husband’s department.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Place without Any Trouble

I never have been a big fan of Halloween. I mean since after the age of nine or so when candy was the holy grail and getting it free was a jackpot like no other. In the tween years Halloween brought drama. In the later single years it meant trying to find a costume that was creative and flattering simultaneously. Hard to feel cute when dressed as a tube of Crest. Not that I ever donned this costume but you get what I'm saying. Then as a grown up you begin to notice the holiday just brings all of the crazies out. Kind of reminds you that the world really is in a heap of trouble. It's not a big surprise and not the kind of surprise like a fun magazine in the midst of bills in the mail. It's the kind that sobers you back to the reality that sometimes danger is real and truly is lurking around the corner.

I'd like to think that I don't live with my head in the sand but I also don't stick it out into the middle of the intersection only to be reminded just how fast cars really travel. So maybe that's why I liked this Halloween especially much. It felt safe and trouble-free. The girls in their Dorothy costumes skipping down the neighborhood, braids in the breeze, friends at their side. Me behind them chatting easily with really nice and fun neighbors whose daughters love my girls really well. I felt that feeling I'd been missing: community. Is community a feeling? Being a part of one is. It felt so good to be in our little neighborhood of warm and friendly neighbors carefully admiring each child's costume. As dusk settled everyone seemed warmer still and each parent passing by with their little goblin was quick to share a smile and trade stories on the loot collection. I felt like I was part of something in that wonderful way that feels like a good fit.
Auntie Em: Why don't you find a place where there isn't any trouble?
Dorothy: A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain.